Plant Systematics and Evolution

, Volume 211, Issue 1–2, pp 31–42 | Cite as

Distribution and chemotaxonomic significance of flavonoids inAloe (Asphodelaceae)

  • A. M. Viljoen
  • B -E. Van Wyk
  • F. R. Van Heerden


A chemotaxonomic study of practically all the species of the genusAloe showed that flavonoids occur as major compounds in 31 out of a total of 380 species investigated. Flavanones and dihydroflavonols are present in the exudate of species inAloe ser.Rhodacanthae andSuperpositae and also in a number of the endemic species from Madagascar. Flavones occur as the only major compound in the leaf extracts of the sects.Leptoaloe andGraminialoe. In ser.Macrifoliae and inLomatophyllum, the sister genus ofAloe, isovitexin co-occurred with theC-glucosylanthrone aloin. The chemotaxonomic implication of these results are discussed together with the significance of the taxonomic and chemogeographical distribution of flavonoids inAloe. With a few rare exceptions, the leaf compounds from two different biogenetic pathways (polyketide pathway and flavonoid pathway) are mutually exclusive. Since flavonoids are restricted to the basal groups inAloe, we conclude that flavonoids are plesiomorphic characters inAloe reflecting ancient phylogenetic and biogeographic links.

Key words

Aloe Asphodelaceae Chemotaxonomy flavonoids 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1998

Authors and Affiliations

  • A. M. Viljoen
    • 1
  • B -E. Van Wyk
    • 1
  • F. R. Van Heerden
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of BotanyRand Afrikaans UniversityRepublic of South Africa
  2. 2.Department of Chemistry and BiochemistryRand Afrikaans UniversityRepublic of South Africa

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